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Email Marketing: Everything You Need to Know About Anti-Spam Laws in 2022

Whether you have a large marketing team or are a marketing department of one, you need to comply with the relevant email anti-spam laws. Here’s how to do it.

by Beth PopNikolov
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Email marketing is an effective way for building materials manufacturers to educate and engage their audiences. But before you start hitting that send button, we have a guide to help make sure you understand all the laws that are designed to protect consumers from receiving unwanted spam.

What Are Anti-Spam Laws?

Anti-spam laws are regulations around unsolicited emails that protect citizens from receiving unwanted spam emails. Any business that sends commercial or transactional emails must comply with these laws. Depending on where your audience resides, you may have laws from multiple jurisdictions that apply to your email campaigns.

Details vary, but in general, you’ll need a way for recipients to unsubscribe while also avoiding dishonest or fraudulent content. If you use email software for your contact list, compliance with these laws is usually part of the terms of service.

An email icon on a phone has two notifications.

4 Types of Anti-Spam Laws To Understand

Here are four separate anti-spam laws to review. All laws may not apply to your business, so find the ones that do to ensure your email marketing strategy is in line with all the necessary requirements.

CAN-SPAM

CAN-SPAM is the U.S. federal anti-spam law. Out of all three global laws, you may need to adhere to, it’s considered the most lenient and the only one that is an opt-out law (versus opt-in). That means you’re not required to get prior consent from recipients before sending commercial messages.

Here are some of the key ways to be compliant with CAN-SPAM:

  • Avoid misleading and deceptive language in all parts of the email, including your subject lines.

  • Disclose that the email is an ad.

  • Provide a clear way for recipients to opt-out of future emails.

  • Actually implement those opt-outs and remove them from your email list.

  • Monitor any outsourced marketing — your company is still responsible for emails sent on your behalf. That makes it important to hire a reputable agency with a team of email marketing experts who are keeping up with the latest regulatory changes for you.

It’s definitely important to implement these regulations — a violation can cost up to $16,000 for each email sent.

CASL

CASL is the Canadian equivalent of the CAN-SPAM Act, but with some notable differences. The Canadian Anti-Spam Law was created in 2014 but went into full effect in 2016 to reinforce best practices in email marketing and combat spam and related issues. These issues include identity theft, phishing and the spread of malicious software like viruses, worms and trojans (malware).

Here are some of the key ways to be compliant:

  • Recipients must opt-in to be added to your email list. It can be implied or explicit consent.

  • Implied consent means that you have an existing business or non-business relationship with the individual, such as a previous commercial transaction.

  • Consumers who opt out must be removed from your list within 10 days.

There are severe penalties for noncompliance, with costs of up to $10 million. In addition, both criminal and civil charges may be made, and there may be personal liability for company officers and directors.

GDPR

Similar to Canada’s CASL, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) started on May 25th, 2018. It covers any messages sent to or received from the European Union and includes regulations on both data security and consent procedures.

Here are some of the key points of compliance surrounding email marketing consent:

  • You need explicit consent before sending a commercial email.

  • You need consent for the specific email address for the individual, whether personal or corporate.

  • You can not use a pre-marked box on your consent forms.

Like Canada, the GDPR imposes hefty fines for non-compliance. A lower-level violation could be the higher of 2% of the company’s revenue or $11.03 million. A higher level violation could be up to the greater of 4% of revenue or $22.07 million. Those are the maximum levels, but those numbers definitely emphasize how seriously the EU views spam violations.

Bottom line: if you’re sending marketing emails to contacts in the EU, you need to make sure that the ways you gather, store, and use that data are compliant. For US-based companies, this often requires changes to their website, email marketing, and sales processes to comply. Because of that, some decide to avoid sending marketing emails to EU contacts altogether.

CCPR (California Consumer Privacy Act)

Companies with a nationwide or regional presence in the U.S. must be aware of the California Consumer Privacy Act. This law secures new privacy rights for California consumers, including the right to know about the personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared.

Here are some other CCPR requirements:

  • Recipients must have the right to delete personal information collected from them, although there are some exceptions.

  • They must have the right to opt out of the sale of their personal information.

  • They have the right to non-discrimination for exercising their CCPA rights.

Personal information includes a wide range of data, including name, social security number, purchase history, internet browsing history and more. Check your database for California addresses and make sure these opt-out forms are available for them.

How Anti-spam Laws Can Affect Your Email Campaign

Here’s the bottom line on what you need to know about anti-spam laws as you develop your building materials marketing strategy.

Anti-spam laws impact the way you build and gather email lists. For those on your list who are in either Canada or the European Union, you must have email recipients opt in to be contacted. In Canada, for instance, there’s some wiggle room in terms of explicit versus implied consent, but you must fully understand those nuances in order to avoid expensive fines. While there isn’t specific opt in rules for U.S. contacts, most email service providers do have opt-in requirements as part of their Terms of Service. If they suspect you're sending emails to contacts who haven't opted in (like uploading purchased lists) they can disable your account.

All three major anti-spam laws have provisions that include guidelines for how to make it easy for recipients to opt-out. This is usually accomplished by providing a link to a one-click subscription page. The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act does allow for multiple opt-out options (like reducing the frequency of emails), but there does need to be the option to explicitly opt out of all further communications.

There are hard rules that opt-out requests need to be honored quickly. In the U.S., you must honor opt-out requests within 10 business days. The FTC also recommends checking your spam filter to make sure you don’t miss these requests as they come in. Additionally, you can’t sell or transfer any email addresses that have already opted out of communications from your company.

You are considered responsible for monitoring communications sent from other organizations on your behalf. Many building materials manufacturers outsource part or all of their online marketing strategy to external agencies. In the FTC’s eyes, your company is ultimately responsible for compliance with these anti-spam laws. That’s why it’s so crucial to choose a reputable company like Venveo to ensure you’re getting exactly what you expect when it comes to compliance of all four anti-spam laws.

Most email service providers require that all users agree to abide by anti-spam policies in their terms of service. Your selected email service provider will likely have anti-spam language in their terms of service. That’s a great starting point to understand exactly what’s expected of you as you navigate your email communications.

How to Comply With Email Laws and Regulations in 2022

Avoid penalties and upset consumers by following these steps for anti-spam law compliance.

#1: Clean your lists for Canadian and European contacts. No one loves cleaning up their CRMs, but it’s crucial to make sure each individual has opted-in in some way. Remember, a past transaction typically counts as implied consent. But you still need to remove anyone from these countries who have not opted into communications from your brand.

#2: Make sure every marketing email you send has an easy-to-find unsubscribe button. No matter where you’re based, check to make sure your email software includes an easy way to opt-out. Then create a process for honoring those requests. It should be clear whose responsibility it is to take care of this in the organization, whether that is the marketing team, customer service or another department. Create a plan, and put it into action. If you offer multiple subscription options, make sure that readers are aware that they can easily manage those subscriptions. Your subscription management page should be easy to understand and include an “unsubscribe from all emails” option.

#3: Be honest with your messaging. Earning trust is important for building materials manufacturers who want to build a loyal following of customers. Transparent messaging is not only good for sales, but it’s also a must-have for anti-spam compliance. Make sure your emails aren’t misleading or dishonest in any way. A simple way to do this is to establish an authentic brand voice and create emails that are consistent with that tone.

#4: Don’t buy email lists. It seems easy: spend a couple hundred bucks to get a list of cold contacts to market to, create an email marketing campaign, and watch the sales roll in. But more often than not, purchased lists result in high bounce rates, unsubscribes, and spam complaints (along with little or no sales). And in addition to violating spam laws, you’ll most likely be violating your ESP’s terms of service which means you run the risk of your email account being deactivated.

Final Thoughts

Having the right team with the right knowledge is the best way to remain compliant with anti-spam laws across the world. Ready to get professional help with your email marketing or marketing automation?

Get started with Venveo today.